The Gideon Principle

NOVEMBER

The GIDEON Principle

Between takes

Can I be counted on when God calls me?

I get tired of being tired! There is so much work to be done but when the time comes to step out into the rugged plains of God’s calling, tired or not, I better be ready to stand up and be counted on.

God trims the fat, prunes the branches and cuts off the dead weight. He is not ever beyond cleaning house, though it’s not always to be free of the unworthy or impure of heart. Sometimes God trims to prove to His adversary boasting superior numbers that He, the Lord, isn’t confined to numbers or ability. God sometimes just likes to show off His superior power by proving He will win with whatever He has at His disposal.

God never worries so neither should we. What we should concern ourselves with is this: will we be fortunate enough to be called upon once God starts making the cuts or will we be asked to sit this one out? I don’t think being left behind is always a bad thing but when we’re called upon we should be situated to stand up. If I hesitate, by the time I’ve decided to screw up my courage and go God will have already moved on down the line.

The Gideon principle is an effective weeding out process God almost always uses in selecting those He chooses to use for His great purpose and tasks that He has devised or undertaken. There is no room for fear, doubt or any distractions. God uses our fear to weed out over half the candidates. But the next cut, though seemingly random, is certainly specific by His own design.

Today I may not be who He needs to accomplish His Will where tomorrow I may be all He needs. Apart from my fear, there is nothing else I can control in being chosen by God or not. Yet fear never completely excludes us from the service of God – it’s what we fear and when we fear it. Gideon never feared the Lord wouldn’t do what He told Gideon that He would do – I think what Gideon feared was himself, his own ability to be used by God – to be affective for God. That’s pretty common, I think. And God seems so patient with us in our reasonable fears. Just be sure that once He answers those fears and concerns we may have, accept His answers and then let yourself be counted on for being willing and prepared to step into the battlefield for the Lord.

Peace to you, today! Sean Gutteridge

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Today’s Scripture:

Judges 7:1-18

1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

2 The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’

3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.'” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

4 And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.”

5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.”

6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water.

7 And the LORD said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”

8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

9 That same night the LORD said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand.

10 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant.

11 And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp.

12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance.

13 When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.”

14 And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.”

15 As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has given the host of Midian into your hand.”

16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars.

17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do.

18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.”

The Destiny of Our Calling

NOVEMBER

Gideon: Reluctant Warrior/PART 3 [The Destiny of Our Calling]

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So what IS our great calling? Have I taken time today to consider what that may be? Is it divine? Is it arbitrary? Are we destined?

God is calling me to do something for Him today and beyond. If I am God’s servant and don’t know what that calling is, then I’ve either not heard His Holy Spirit telling me what it is or I’ve been avoiding His Holy Spirit because I don’t WANT to know what that great calling is. Does His Word not tell us in Isaiah that He hears us? That He will be found by those who seek Him in earnest? That He has answered us while our words to Him are still forming upon our lips?

Don’t you want to do something truly great and incredible? God has a great calling for you but sometimes, when we find it… that calling is either not what we expected or we suddenly find it so incredibly impossible to believe God has called US to it, well… we just can’t find it within ourselves to step into action and (in Faith) do what God has called us to do. I truly believe that He calls each of us to things so special and amazing that are meant specifically for us to do. For a guy like me, that’s, well… that’s pretty exciting! On my own, I’m lost and would be of little use to anyone else.

Stop saying you can’t when God has called you to His great purposes. If He calls you His Great and Mighty person of valor, that’s who you are. Stop making excuses. We’re not weak, we are mighty. We’re not insufficient, we are abundantly supplied with every talent we need to be successful in His endeavors. We may be afraid but He has given us the courage by His presence. Step out into it. What a tragedy if we miss out on the amazing things we might experience. He will strike down our foes and help us conquer any obstacle before us. For if God has called us to succeed, do we really believe there is anything that can stand in our way of fulfilling His Great Calling? THIS is our destiny, this IS our Divine and Great calling. You’ve asked the question and He has answered. Now stop jacking around and let’s get after it!

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Judges 6:15-16

15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

Our Divine Calling

NOVEMBER

Gideon: Reluctant Warrior/PART 2 [Our Divine Calling]

The Casting Shadow at Arbel

a great place to feel perspective, not find it.

I don’t believe God is as desperate as it may seem, when He calls on the likes of me. Though it’s difficult to wrap my head around I’ve come to understand that Gods calling on my life is divine. It’s not random and it’s no accident. And once I’ve declared myself to be under His authority and chosen to be His servant, every task of His is of a divine nature, as well. In this mindset… each action, every thought, every word of each phrase I speak becomes of the utmost importance. They are no longer mine – all have become His. God never moves us without reason and I should take care to be absolutely sure that we are in perfect step, He and I.

With a divine calling comes an enormous responsibility. Having a divine calling also means our call is active. That means that I’m not waiting on God’s call to do something, my call is waiting on me to get going. But our response to God is much like Gideon’s, when he says “But why God?”. When I ask God this, His reply is very telling. He simply says “Do I NOT send you?”. What can I make of this simple (yet telling) statement? Keeping in mind that my divine calling is active, my question to God seems to question, itself, that I doubt the validity of God’s divine calling and His reply tells me three things: First, God’s statement IS my confirmation of the divine calling He has given me. Second, this statement is my conviction for not immediately doing what God has called me to do. But most importantly, God’s statement is the courage I sometimes need to walk in the confidence I should have when walking in the calling God has given me that I WILL be successful. However, even should I not be victorious if I am walking confidently with courage in God’s calling, there can only be victory for God. A divine calling never knows anything but certain victory. And that will always give me peace of mind knowing I’ve been faithful to all that He has asked of me.

 

There is no pressure, now, missing His calling. There is no need to fear NOT hearing His voice. There is no need to believe that I am somehow capable of messing up His divine and Holy plan. Though I may stumble, His Spirit will surely get me where He needs me to be in order that His plans unfold. My only aim is to simply do the following: don’t question the fact that He HAS called us and to take good care of the divine calling He has given us. The fact that He is using me tells me for certain… He is well aware that I’m human and that I’m probably going to need some guidance in getting to His end-point!  Oddly… that actually gives me peace of mind to accept the very real fact that – even in my mistakes – He will get me where He needs me to be! He has confirmed His calling to me. So why am I still sitting here? Man… I gotta get going!

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Judges 6:13-14

13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?”

What, Me… Thankful? You Bet!

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It’s my favorite holiday. I won’t try to hide it. I won’t try to defend it. I don’t have to. I love Christmas because of what we celebrate and Easter brings me to a strong awareness of exactly who Christ is and what He has done for me. I’m not making an argument here for which is the greater holiday, which one is of greater significance to us, spiritually or any of that. I am simply telling you that for me, this is the holiday that I love most. And I love all of the big three! But for me, Easter is all business: lots of work and preparation to help everyone kill the myth of some stupid rabbit and remind the world that Easter is about a risen Savior. Easter is sometimes the one opportunity I may have to influence someone for Christ. Christmas… Oh, Christmas is complicated. The Joy. The beauty. The chaos. The absolute surrender to celebrating the simplicity of the Birth and Hope of Jesus. I love getting gifts. I love giving gifts. I love the colors and lights and sounds of Christmas. I love the smell of Christmas. I love the feel of Christmas. But I also must confess that Christmas brings with it an intense and very personal struggle with it, for there are many painful memories attached to Christmas that I am confronted with each year. With every moment of Joy experienced, there is also some demon or painful memory that must be laid to rest once more. Christmas sometimes feels like a Spiritual tug of war that leaves me exhausted and weary. I do feel that it seldom overwhelms me… but the Christmas battle does take its toll upon me.

But Thanksgiving… Thanksgiving? Ahhh, it is the holiday that always makes me smile! It puts me in a wonderful mood! It brings instant Joy into my heart and makes me skip, sing and whistle. Have there been thanksgiving moments that have been painful and regretful? Yes. There was the “Thanksgiving that Seanee Stole” incident. There was the “Walking On Eggshells” incident and the Thanksgiving that almost wasn’t year. But there has always been an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and thankfulness that always overtakes me. I recall the many people past and present who have enriched my life. I am more aware at this time of year of all that I have and am humbled by the mere thought and understanding that I do not deserve this all. Yes, my birthday generally falls during Thanksgiving week so I admit that this fact certainly influences my feelings towards Thanksgiving! But there are 100 great Thanksgiving memories for every bad memory – probably more!

I like thinking about people who bless me. My family, of course! The two brothers that are apart of so many of those many great memories, growing up. My parents who made this holiday so much fun and exciting; my now passed Ma Maw and Paw Paw, whose house we went to every year. My wife, who reminded me that this is the Holiday we need to make the most of now, while we still have the time and opportunities to do so. My own children, who probably don’t like thanksgiving as much as I do but make it fun for me, never the less.

I love the people I work for and work with and the people whom I do my best to serve: they have given me purpose and have had patience in allowing me to be myself, even as flawed as I may be. I love recalling the people who’ve influenced me greatly, like my dear friend Juliet, who listened to the first song I ever wrote when we were in Highschool and because of her encouragement, I continued to write more. The Psychology teacher who encouraged me to never be afraid to explore those interesting thoughts in my mind and not hide them away but share my thoughts because, she said, “they are worth sharing!” or my Senior English literature teacher who quietly submitted a short story of mine because she saw potential in me. There was also my Highschool drama coach who inspired me to be an actor and my professor at Kansas University who taught me how to hone my talents in theatre and gave me the tools to become disciplined within my craft, and in so doing, helped me become a truly great actor. There were scores of artist, actors and musicians who I’ve gleaned from over the years and for whom I can never take credit for any good moment on stage I’ve ever experienced. There is the man who gave me my first opportunity in ministry because, where everyone else saw no potential at all, he somehow saw what God saw and knew I might be of benefit to the Lord… somehow. He went on to found and build the fastest growing church in modern America, Life Church, and yet before he became what he is today and I became another faceless unknown, he still saw something in me worth taking a risk on. There was the young woman who mentored me as a psalmist and taught me how to listen to the Holy Spirit and discern what it was the Lord desires in worship. And what about the Great Man for whom I’ve worked with, now, for twenty years? The enormous patience he showed in never giving up on me despite all the mistakes I made in his ministry. He molded me and shaped me, tutored me and even kicked at trash can at me, once! But we haven’t been short on laughs nor good times! There have been friends and partners in ministry who have made it possible for me to enjoy success and every great moment in ministry; Mark Ryan, Curtis Rose, Jimmy Sullivan, Mike Mosteller and a host of other Mikes; the Amy’s and Teresea’s, Chelsea’s, Cheryl’s and Traci’s; so many people over the years – some that have faded away and a few still there, today… but each life has left an imprint on my soul and my spirit, some indeligable mark upon my life that I will never be able to explain.

And today, like every Thanksgiving, I end in my greatest giving of thanks, most of all: the two greatest things I am most thankful for, the two things God has gifted me with that have completely altered the horrible and destructive path I was on that completely changed my life: the salvation of Christ and second chance at life He gave me… and the gift and blessing of the woman I married, who has made me the man that I am today. Because of her, I have made at least something of my life. And if you think I’m not much today, well, you should’ve known me before Rene came around.

So Thanksgiving holds a special meaning for me. I have no shortage of things to be thankful for. I only have to look around, just open my eyes each morning, to see so many blessings. But for some reason, the smell of turkey and the sight of pumpkin pie piled high with whipped cream seems to immediately extract this great perspective of gratitude and thankfulness within me. Right or wrong, it is what it is… and I am thankful for that, too. And… I am also thankful for you!

Happy a Thanksgiving, everyone! Peace and Blessings! Sean Gutteridge

Our Great Calling

NOVEMBER

Gideon: Reluctant Warrior/PART 1 [Our Great Calling]

IMG_2462God see’s things as they are in His eyes, NOT as they appear to be in our own. So who am I to call myself anything other then what God has called me? Will I doubt Him if He greets me as His “mighty man of valor”?

The Holy Spirit greets Gideon, reminding him that The Lord is with Gideon. The Holy Spirit also reminds Gideon of his true identity. 

In every situation, God is with us. In all things… everywhere we go… period. When the Holy Spirit approaches us, He always greets us the same way He greeted Gideon – by reminding us of our identity in Christ and reminding us that God goes with us in all endeavors that are HIS. When we face adversity, His strength is all that we need to rely upon.

So why aren’t we able to walk confidently in who God says we are? Embrace and relish the fact that God has called you to a task because He knows you are capable of accomplishing everything He has called you to do, otherwise He wouldn’t have called you in the first place. Sometimes I think God has more confidence in me then I have in myself. Other times, I think I don’t want to be what God calls me – I run from my true identity because I don’t want to do the hard work that is before me.

We have been called for this moment to serve God and His Holy Spirit confirms our calling with a strong reminder that our God is waiting for us to step into His perfect Will. The Holy Spirit has already prepared the way for us to deliver God’s message and perform His work for us that lies before us. Who are we to question who God calls and how He chooses to work? Who am I to say I am NOT whom HE says I am?

God has specifically chosen YOU today. It’s no accident He wants to use you, it’s very intentional. He has tasks for us today, tomorrow and beyond. But first, we must accept who we are according to Him. Be prepared to see yourself as He sees you. Be willing to be who He creates you to be, in the light of how His Holy Spirit has greeted you today. When we step into this identity, we will find it possible to do the impossible.

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Judges 6:11-12

11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.

12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.”

Great Gains

NOVEMBER

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Look at all I have. Look at all that I strive for each and every day, and yet when it’s all said and done the only thing that matters is Christ. Nothing else matters.

So what are the worthy pursuits in my life? Money? Security? Happiness? All these things and a few more are just plain worthless. It pains me to think that I chase such empty pursuits. And in doing so, I brush past all I’ve already gained in Christ.

Taking stock in where we are and what God has given us should give us pause to stop and praise Him for it all. Look at my life: beautiful kids, incredible wife, surrounded by good people with an amazing calling and ministry. Yet even as great as these things are, they mean nothing when I compare them to what I’ve been given in Christ, Jesus. In reality, I have to admit – which isn’t difficult to do – that the things I DO have that actually mean something are because of Jesus. I’d have NOTHING of worth… nothing of this earth nor anything spiritually – if it weren’t for Christ. All I have that means anything is due to His Grace and my salvation in Him. Everything else – even the few things I may have gained that might be considered good – are considered a loss.

On any day, but especially on my birthday, this is the best of perspectives. I hate the fact that I am in a position to screw this up. I still have this unfortunate ability to know this Truth and still sabotage my life. Lord, I thank You for all You have given me. But even should I lose it all, most of all I thank You for sending Your Son to die for my sins and save my life. I love You, Lord, and I only ask that through it all I would never forget what YOU have done for me. Amen.

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Philippians 3:7

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

 

Growing In Grace

NOVEMBER

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Am I growing in the Grace and Knowledge of God, today? If I have not a deeper knowledge and understanding of Him today then I did yesterday, then I am not seeking to know Him more. And that is simply unacceptable. If I am not filled with more of His Grace tomorrow then what I have today, I am on a fast ride on a steep hill headed towards spiritual apathy that will eventually leave me empty and separated from God.

Each day is a brand new opportunity to learn something new of God. Each moment brings with it the possibility to grow just a little more in the Grace of Jesus Christ and I shouldn’t side step or ignore these incredible opportunities at my disposal. But instead of grabbing them with eagerness and spiritual exuberance, to often I allow the weariness of this broken world to distract me from everything of Him that The Lord makes available for me.

I need to stop taking Spiritual naps, get up and start seizing the chances God brings me each day. Don’t be fooled that it takes a lot of work and tremendous effort to grow in the Grace and knowledge of our wonderful & great God. All it takes is an eager willingness and minimal effort to capitalize on the things God is just as eagerly waiting to bestow upon us.

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

 

Today’s Scripture:

2 Peter 3:18

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

 

 

The Dividing Truth

NOVEMBER

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There is a discomfort when Christ plainly proclaims His true objective: He has brought a message that will divide and create division amongst even the closest of people. Truth will divide because Truth does not waiver in who He is and what it’s message is. If I believe but my mother or my brother rejects it, then we will be divided until they can reconcile themselves with Truth as I have. There will be no middle ground.

Are we prepared to be cast out and rejected, even by our family or closest friends, for the sake of Truth? I am fortunate to be certain – but there may come the day when even believers stand on opposite sides of Truth and it will divide them. Make sure which side of Truth you are standing on: though it may be painful, always be sure that what you believe and where you stand are where Christ will be found, too.

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 12:49-53

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!

50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Where I Walk

NOVEMBER 2

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How certain are you, this morning, of where you are walking? Anytime we are uncertain or feel unsure, we should take a step back and BE certain AND sure that we are still walking with Christ and not apart from Him. There is no uncertainty where my Savior is concerned! So once we’ve reestablished that we are still walking with Him, OR – in the event we’ve discovered we were slightly of course but are now firmly BACK on track – we can in confidence continue on leaving behind doubt and uncertainty like dirty laundry left to be washed clean.

I am either filled with Christ or I am not. It’s that black and white. God always leaves room for me to be human, never condemning me for my fears and doubts. But He also pushes me with light into the Truth of who it is that now resides in me. I must see the doubt and always face fears so that I can be reminded that I really am more then a conqueror through Christ, who dwells within me. Peace, SAG

Today’s Scripture:

Colossians 2:6-10

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,

7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Shadow of the Cross

NOVEMBER 

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The shadow of the cross always seems to appear at just the right moment, when we need it most. When I am at my weariest, most distressed, at the absolute end without glimmer of Hope… Above the horizon the cross rises up in power and glory urging me onward through all struggles and pain.

The cross is everywhere. It’s shadow is inescapable. And that is what I see, even in the darkest of nights. It doesn’t merely save me, it continually stays rooted in this Truth: that it stands unshakable and unconquerable. I don’t reach for the cross, the cross reaches for me – in every hour and every circumstance.

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Revelation 19:11

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.